Seven Question Slam: Mr. Dionne

Q: What made you want to teach, specifically history?

A: Growing up, I had some really good history teachers at Somerset High school. I learned not just the history, but different aspects of how to look at things, different approaches and philosophies, which they instilled in me. My Freshman teacher retired and one of the spots that he opened up was the spot that I took. He taught us to question everything; he was so hard on us and just a stickler for certain things. It wowed me. You don’t see it at the time, but years later you’ll look back on it and go “alright, this is why they did it”. I also had a history teacher who was not your typical history teacher and he blended a lot of stories from his personal experiences into class because he was a former police officer. He made class was very interesting, and it was one of those classes that, if you blinked, the class was over. We always had a good mix of kids in the class, so it was always very lively and manageable, and he made it very interesting. That’s kind of the reason, going, in, I figured I wanted to be a history teacher. But it also wasn’t my first choice. I originally wanted to be a marine biologist. I studied that for a couple of years and figured out it wasn’t for me, though I’d grown up on the water my entire life. So I knew I’d do either marine biology or history, and then with history, and then with history, I figured I could get involved with sports and coaching, all that good stuff. I have(gotten involved), for years, except for when my kids were born, then I took a couple of years off. Other than that, teaching-wise, it was my former teachers that got me into it.

Q: What has been your most bizarre life experience?

A: There’s been a few, and it’s always been when I’m not home. They happen when I’m out somewhere. The youngest one I can remember, I grew up on a sailboat. We were coming back from Block Island. It was about 90 degrees, there was no wind, and the sailboat was kind of flopping around. Suddenly, we heard this explosion of water and we looked over the starboard side of the boat, and there was this huge whale the length of the boat, kind of playing with the boat. I t was bumping up and down along the side of it. It blew up some water and submerged. The depth sounder went off, saying we went from 150 feet down to 2 feet, so the whale went under the boat, and was scraping along the bottom, and we figured he was going to flip it, so the whale came up on the other side, starting brushing up and playing with the side, went back under, and took off. That was weird. The only other one I could think of was when I was in Hawaii, snorkeling off one of the coasts, and I on my honeymoon. My wife couldn’t get in the water because the part we got in from was U-shaped. so the beach came down and jutted out, so the water came in and washed out, so the waves kept crashing, and she couldn’t get in. Growing up,  I loved sea turtles, had a weird fascination with them. At the hotel, we were staying at, we heard there were massive sea turtle caves right off of where we were sleeping. My wife couldn’t get in, so I was like, “alright, then I’m going in without you”. So I swam out and around the edge, down a bit by myself, which I thought was a perfectly fine idea at the time, in Hawaii with no one else around. Looking back on it, it wasn’t the brightest of ideas. Then, where I thought the caves were, I dove down. For some reason, I stopped at some point and started looking around. You know when you’re in the water, and you look in the distance, and you can’t see anything but a deep blue, nothing at all? For some reason, the theme to Jaws started playing in my mind, and all I could picture was that effect, and then you know how it grows from a little speck and comes at you? I thought I saw that speck, and needless to say, I swam the fastest I’ve ever swum in my life back to the shore, flying through people that were feeding fish, and it was kind of weird. I freaked my self out when it should have been a fun, good experience. I guess that was my weirdest experience.

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching?

A: Coming in, getting to work with you guys. I think it’s a challenge every day, but it’s something that’s going to be different every day. Every day, someone’s going to see something new; just to see that moment where everything clicks. Helping them see that and learn is great! It’s great to see them learn and see that growth throughout the year. Students come in, and they’re different than by the end of the year. It’s all worth it to see the growth and personal development.

T: So you said it was a challenge. Can you expand on that?

D: Well, the challenge is that every day’s going to be different. You never know, and everyone brings something different to the school. Sometimes it’s positive and sometimes it’s negative. It’s just something different. It’s not the same thing as I won’t come just come in, pick up papers, organize something, and do the same monotonous thing every day for the rest of my life, day after day, night after night. It’s always different, always changing. It’s not like a desk job, it’s always exciting. As I said, there are always new conversations, new points of view coming up, new ways to teach the material, new technology coming out. Ultimately, it’s helping people, that challenge to help kids continually improve, and get them towards their goal of graduating.

Q: If you won a 10 million dollar lottery, what would you do with the money?

A: Figure out how much that would be for the next so many years, and if I could live on that. The skeptic in me says I need to talk to a lawyer to make sure I’m covered, and that if I’m teaching, I can’t be sued. I would use the money to help my family first. That’s what’s most important. Make sure my kids are set up, my mother and brother are taken care of. I’d help my wife’s side of the family. Take the worry about expenses away from people, because that’s usually the biggest fear. In the helping process, after the family, it would be the community, helping out as many people as I can. I don’t know if there’d be much left after that. There’d definitely be some traveling and fun stuff in there. Go to places we’d never seen before. We like to travel. Never been to Europe. That would be a couple stops along the way. But it would be more about taking care of family and community.

Q: What extracurriculars did you do in high school?

A: I did basketball, football for four years, baseball for four years in which I was the captain. I played basketball my freshman year. Did Case Rally every year, and that was really fun. I think our class only lost to the class ahead once. Actually, no, we never lost to them. We beat them our freshman year, then every year after that. Even their senior year, which they weren’t too happy about. I was in the student council for a while, but we didn’t have the programs that we do today. Most of the stuff is done outside of school. I wasn’t really worried about clubs though, because my focus was on sports.

Q: You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away, sell it, or get rid of it in any way. What would you do with the elephant?

A: Probably use it for a company that gives rides to kids at birthday parties. If we could find a use for it, like in the Spirit of Somerset, I’d rent it out for rides at the waterfront, because I can’t get rid of it. Or if the town could find a use for it. If I could get rid of it, I’d donate it to some zoo, set it free. Seeing that I can’t set it free in Somerset, that’d be the ultimate goal. Give it its freedom. There’s not much room in Somerset for an elephant, and it’s kind of cold up here.

Q: If you could go back in time and change one event, what would it be and why?

A: Historically, I would say, pre World War 2. Have them really go after the dictators that came into power and prevent them from coming into power. Prevent Mussolini, prevent Hitler because then you don’t have World War 2. Come up with a way and change the situation in Europe after the Great, preventing them from diving into depression, and turning them around right away, then punishing the Central Powers with the Treaty of Versailles. Follow what Wilson wanted and come up with a plan of peace. If they weren’t hit too hard with the Treaty of Versailles, come up with lasting peace. Have the US on the League of Nations, have that set up moving forward. That would solve a lot of problems.